In a week that saw Trent Solsma placed on the Allstate Good Works team for his outstanding community service and character, the Chargers of Briar Cliff found him quite uncharitable on the field of play. Solsma led the Mustangs to a 56-0 rout of their crosstown rival, completing 30 of 34 pass attempts for 393 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
Addison Ross opened the scoring for Morningside with a 13-yard touchdown reception to take a 7-0 lead with 12:25 remaining in the first quarter. That was as close as Briar Cliff would come for the rest of the day. Morningside expanded the lead twice more in the first quarter. First with a 20-yard pitch-and-catch between Solsma and Connor Niles. That was followed by a nifty 12-yard touchdown reception by Arnijae Ponder on a screen pass, bringing the score to 21-0 at the end of first quarter.
The Mustang offense continued the onslaught in the second quarter as Ponder found pay dirt on three separate occasions with scoring runs of 3, 4, and 1 yard, bringing the score to 42-0 at halftime. Ponder would lead the Mustang ground attack with 75 yards on the day, and fellow running back Anthony Sims contributed 69 yards.
The scoring concluded in the third quarter with two more Connor Niles touchdown receptions of 18 and 7 yards, the latter of which set a new Morningside record for career touchdown receptions. The reception was the 48th in Niles’ career at Morningside, besting 2013 NAIA Player of the Year Kyle Schuck’s mark of 47. Niles ended the day with 13 receptions for 217 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bo Els was also a major contributor to the aerial assault with 10 receptions for 111 yards.
While the Mustang offense was rolling, the defense was suffocating. The Chargers gained only 12 first downs throughout the game and were held to 13 yards of total offense at halftime. Briar Cliff only able to convert on 3 of 12 third-down attempts, and quarterback Cole Hanafan was harassed all day long while being sacked five times.
Niklas Gustav led the defensive charge for the Mustangs with 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 TFLs, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. A.O. Duer Scholarship recipient Joel Katzer also recorded a sack, and was joined by Jesse Faltys, Chase Nelson, and Dom Barrett in bringing down Hanafan for a sack. Chase Nelson also forced a fumble on his sack, which was recovered by Gustav.
All in all, the Chargers were only able to muster 163 yards of total offense, with 70 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter against Mustang reserves. It was the first shutout of the season for the Mustang defense.
Morningside is back in action next weekend in Hastings, NE as they take on the Hastings Broncos.